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Safe Transportation for our children

                                                                                                                                                                Photo by Christy Porter
The transportation team from left: Nathan Buckland, James Vankirk, Jim Maddox, Mickey Wilson, Tom Rodman, Karen Miller, Mark Eyman, Hugh Kovachik, Tony Huff and Kermit Lonning, Director of Transportation. Not pictured are Lonnie Buckner and substitute drivers.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

Last week, Oct. 21 – 25, was National School Bus Safety Week. We salute the team at Licking School R-VIII that ensures area schoolchildren’s safety while riding the school buses. Kermit Lonning, Director of Transportation and Maintenance, and the bus drivers themselves are instrumental for daily safe trips back and forth during the school year.
All bus drivers have Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL), undergo several hours of training each year and have physical and drug screenings, as well as background checks. Combined mileage for all the drivers average 400 – 500 miles a day, covering approximately 220 square miles.
There are currently 10 buses which run daily, and eight that are utilized for school trips and kept maintained in reserve. The department complies with no less than three inspections a year. In July before the school year begins, all buses are inspected; in March the MSHP completes an inspection; and there is a regular inspection which is done locally on an annual basis. The Missouri State Highway Patrol also will do random spot-checks. Lonning reported an MSHP spot-check on Monday “went really well. It was a very good inspection.”
                                                        Archive Photo
Frank Caton with Licking’s first school bus in 1937.






Frank Caton built Licking’s first school bus using what is believed to be a 1934 International truck frame. Onto that frame was built a wooden body, sheltering the children from the weather. The first school bus rides commenced in the 1937 – 1938 school year. Prior to this, schoolchildren walked, rode horses or parents drove them to school. Children to whom the new school bus was not available, such as with the rural schoolhouses, continued with these same modes of transportation.
                                                                                                 Photo Submitted
Joel Hatch representing school bus drivers in 1948.
April 15, 1948, Joel Hatch, former superintendent of schools, signed a contract with the Licking School District to purchase the school buses and take most of the transportation responsibilities, including maintenance, from the school district. After a period of several years he would revert ownership and maintenance back to the school district. At this time most students were transported from a radius of approximately 20 miles.
Making it easier to maintain the buses, Licking built a bus maintenance building in July of 1981 just west of the elementary school. This is still utilized today as the central hub for transportation needs.
Although many children may spend more time riding the bus than what they would like, it’s definitely safer, more comfortable and better than walking. Parents can rest assured that the person driving the buses have their children’s safety uppermost in mind at all times.

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